That’s My Boy (2012)
Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler. What the heck happened to you? That’s the question I kept asking myself throughout That’s My Boy (and every Adam Sandler movie I watch these days).
To be fair, I actually think That’s My Boy is one of Sandler’s better efforts in recent years (it’s not easy being worse than Grown Ups and Jack and Jill). It is a film that will divide and infuriate audiences because it is so politically incorrect, but I ascribe to the school of thought that as long as the material is funny it gets a pass. Sadly, not much of it is funny.
Sandler plays Donny Berger, a 14-year-old who impregnates his teacher (played by Eva Amurri and later on by her mother Susan Sarandon). I suppose this kind of behaviour was less frowned upon in 1984, because Donny becomes a huge celebrity and is high-fived everywhere he goes. Fast forward to present day and Donny has become a bum in need of cash, and his one life line is his estranged now-adult son, played by Andy Samberg (of the Lonely Island fame).
Most of the film is about Sandler trying to get back into Samberg’s life as the latter, who is clearly carrying emotional scars from his childhood, prepares for marriage to his wealth fiancee, Gossip Girl‘s Leighton Meester. It’s typical Sandler immaturity comedy, and a little bit of it pays off, but most of it doesn’t.
That’s My Boy tries to shock with themes such as paedophilia, statutory rape, incest, and so forth. The obscenity will offend, but I doubt it will produce laughs. The biggest problem with the film is a recurring theme in pretty much all of Sandler’s recent films — it comes across as mean-spirited. Tasteless I can stomach, but not this.
1.75 stars out of 5
Red Lights (2012)
I am a huge fan of the unknown and supernatural powers, so naturally I was drawn to Red Lights, which received surprisingly little buzz.
Cillian Murphy plays a young psychic debunker working with Sigourney Weaver. The pair become drawn into a nasty confrontation with Weaver’s nemesis, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), who disappeared from public view 30 years ago after his biggest critic died under mysterious circumstances. Weird stuff happens, the stakes rise, things get dangerous, and the debunkers become more and more frustrated as Silver seems to be revealing himself as the real deal.
While Red Lights is not as good as it probably could have been, I found myself really enjoying it. Maybe it’s my fascination with the subject matter, but it was interesting watching how psychics are debunked and wondering whether there really are supernatural powers that can’t be explained by science. The film has some tense moments, but it’s the intrigue that holds it together. It’s just unfortunate the script could not have brought out more from the characters.
I liked the ending, but I didn’t love the excessive explanations and exposition that came along with it. On the whole, it’s quite a flawed film, but my personal fascination with the occult made it a worthwhile experience.
3.5 stars out of 5
Magic Mike (2012)
So I keep hearing rave reviews about Magic Mike, a supposedly semi-autobiographical film about Channing Tatum’s time as a male stripper. But I reckon people just liked it because ripped guys took their shirts off. Talk about double standards.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad film, and I can definitely see it’s appeal, but in my opinion Magic Mike is overrated. The main character of the film is actually Alex Pettyfer (otherwise known as Number Four), a young stud who gets introduced to the lucrative and sordid world of male stripping by Tatum’s character, the titular Mike. At first Pettyfer is shy and nervous working for boss Matthew McConaughey, but as he finds his confidence he starts to become brash and loses control.
It’s the typical coming-of-age, rise-and-fall tale where the protagonist learns some valuable life lessons by the end of it all. So what’s good about it? Well for starters the execution from director Steven Soderbergh is excellent — it’s a sensitive and insightful portrayal that doesn’t sanitize what happens behind the scenes of a male strip club but does it tastefully and without that sleazy after taste. Secondly, the acting is very good, and this was highly unexpected for me because I never thought Tatum or McConaughey could act. The supporting actors are also solid, with familiar faces such as Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miami) rounding out the cast.
Magic Mike is billed as a comedy-drama, but it’s predominantly a drama where the comedy comes naturally from the antics of a strip joint. The film gets darker and more serious as it plods along and ditches the comedy completely before the end. It’s no wonder why I found the first half much more enjoyable.
3 stars out of 5
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)
You don’t need me to tell you that any ensemble cast movie based on a pregnancy guide book (!) is going to suck. But I will tell you anyway. What to Expect When You’re Expecting sucks. Balls. The film is so far off what a real pregnancy is like that it should have been called What NOT to Expect When You’re Expecting.
The film actually starts off strongly with a hideous-looking Cameron Diaz and Glee’s Matthew Morrison participating in a celebrity dance competition that also includes NBA star Dwyane Wade, which was kind of amusing. But everything goes downhill from there, especially as we start jumping around from pregnant couple to couple, each suffering from a different set of circumstances that is supposed to reflect real life.
We’ve got JLo and Rodrigo Santoro dealing with adoption, Elizabeth Banks unexpectedly feeling awful throughout her pregnancy, an old Dennis Quaid and a young Brooklyn Decker, and a young Anna Kendrick and young Chace Crawford. All of them are having babies! And there is a father’s group where a bunch of fellas , including Chris Rock, gather to bitch about their problems. Oh, the humanity!
Aussie Rebel Wilson stole some scenes with her random boganness, but in general the film was an disingenuous money-grabbing turd that had almost no laughs and way too much sappy melodrama, feigned joy and manufactured elation. Don’ watch this film if you have a child or intend to have a child. Actually, just don’t watch this film.
1 star out of 5